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Governor Sanders announces $500,000 in outdoor recreation grants to seven Arkansas counties

Governor Sanders announces $500,000 in outdoor recreation grants to seven Arkansas counties

Little Rock, Arkansas – Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, along with Secretary Shea Lewis, Secretary Renee Mallory, and Office of Outdoor Recreation Director Katherine Andrews, awarded $500,000 in Outdoor Recreation Grants to seven counties across Arkansas. The grants, part of the revived Great Strides program, aim to enhance outdoor recreational opportunities in smaller communities, a key recommendation of the Natural State Initiative. The funding for these grants comes from Arkansas’ Tobacco Settlement Fund.

Reviving Great Strides

Governor Sanders expressed her enthusiasm for the revival of the Great Strides program, which had been dormant since 2017. She emphasized the importance of focusing on smaller Arkansas communities that lack robust access to outdoor recreation. “Great Strides is back and better than ever. I know that when deciding which applications to accept, the grant writing committee had a special focus: smaller Arkansas communities without robust access to outdoor recreation. What these projects lack in size they make up for in impact. This program goes a long way toward making sure that every corner of Arkansas – not just a few big cities – is a great place to live and raise a family,” said Governor Sanders.

Improving Quality of Life

Secretary of ADPHT, Shea Lewis, highlighted the positive impact of the funds on the quality of life for Arkansans. “The funds we are handing out today undoubtedly will enrich the quality of life for Arkansans statewide, fostering greater access to outdoor recreation,” Lewis said. He also noted the valuable partnership with the Department of Health to promote a healthier, more active lifestyle for both residents and visitors.

Renee Mallory, Secretary of ADH, emphasized the health benefits of the projects. “The Arkansas Department of Health is thrilled to once again partner with the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism to grant awards in communities around our state and enable accessibility for outdoor activities. Designated outdoor trails and walking paths lead to healthier communities. Outdoor trails can improve our physical, mental, and social health and wellness. This well-being allows us to keep improving and making choices for a healthier lifestyle for ourselves, our families, and our communities. Our goal is for these grant awards to continue to positively impact the health of Arkansas communities.”

Celebrating Partnerships

Director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation, Katherine Andrews, celebrated the collaboration aimed at enhancing outdoor recreation resources. “Today is a celebration of the partnership between the Office of Outdoor Recreation and the Department of Health with the goal of providing access to outdoor recreation at the local level and improving the overall quality of Arkansas’s outdoor recreation resources,” Andrews said.

Grant Recipients

The 2024 Great Strides grant recipients include:

  • Emerson: $93,735 for Purple Hull Pea Park
  • Humnoke: $43,942 for City of Humnoke Park Trail
  • Brinkley: $66,340 for Brinkley City Park
  • Alexander: $96,990 for Alexander City Park
  • Lewisville: $99,857 for Lewisville City Park
  • Sevier County: $8330.08 for DeQueen Lake Trail
  • Tyronza: $78,424 for Tyronza Park

These communities will use the grant funds to establish health and fitness trails that promote physical activity and provide health benefits through safe, accessible facilities.

The Office of Outdoor Recreation received twenty-one grant applications from fifteen counties, totaling $1,611,270.28 in requested funds for fiscal year 2024. Ultimately, $500,000 was allocated, with $491,118.08 distributed to the seven chosen projects. The grant selection took place on May 15, 2024.

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